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When daylight came Kieran found he was still haunted by the dream. Adam was told he'd had a nightmare, and decided to take him for a walk round the island to try and relax him. Hillyard and Ransey had already gone off to chop down a tree to build the verandah, before the heat of the day got too intense, and so that left Joby to babysit Lonts.
"Oh thanks a lot", said Joby "And what if he plays me up?"
"He won't", said Adam "I'm going to have words with him".
"Fat lot of good that'll do!"
Lonts reacted with his usual terror to the close proximity of Adam, and showed every inclination to scream the place down.
"You hate me", he wailed "You always have. You think I'm evil!"
"I think nothing of the kind", said Adam "I just want you to behave yourself that's all, is that too much to ask?"
Lonts suddenly lunged at Adam and sank his teeth into his neck. It took Adam some time to shake him off, as it felt like he was wrestling with a vampire bat. Eventually Kieran and Joby managed to pull the boy away without causing too much damage.
"Adam, you're bleeding", Kieran cried "Are you alright?"
"That was some love-bite", Adam gasped, breathlessly "I think I preferred the technique he used on you! The little savage. I don't care what Hillyard would say, I'm not letting him get away with that, or he'll feel he can do it to any of us at any time".
"Are you going to hit him?" said Joby, pensively.
"Oh don't worry", Adam pulled his metal ruler out of the bag containing his painting equipment "He'll live. He just might have to eat standing up for a while".
Adam pushed Lonts forward over the table and brought down the ruler several times on his naked buttocks. Lonts screamed and wept, though more out of humiliation than pain. He kicked his bare feet frantically, sending up scuffs of sand from the hut floor.
"Right, you gave me a token of your affection", said Adam, hauling the weeping boy upright again "Well I've just given you a token of mine. Anymore biting, scratching, kicking, unsolicited kisses, or lunges from you, or if you refuse to do as you're told by any of us, then I won't hesitate to use this on you again. I'm beginning to actually get some sympathy for the ship's crew if that's how you carried on with them!"
"I'll burn that thing", Lonts sobbed.
"I've still got my hands", said Adam, and smacked him once on his sore buttocks for good measure "And they're slap size".
Adam paused and tried to light a cigar, but once more he found his hands were shaking too much. Like Joby before him, Kieran took the cigar away and lit it himself. They had been walking for some time, beating a path through the huge feathery-leafed plants that populated the interior of the island.
"Have you got the shakes again, Addy?" said Kieran, handing the cigar back to him "Are we getting low on coffee or something?"
"Do you think I was too severe with him?" Adam asked, tremulously.
"No I don't", said Kieran "He had to be taught a lesson. We can't have him going round taking bites out of people whenever he gets upset".
"Quite. It'd be like having a vampire around".
"I hope he's not!"
"No need to worry there", said Adam "That was simply a king-sized tantrum. Oh that boy! The worst thing about him in my opinion is that he makes me feel like my father".
"You are not like your father", said Kieran "Don't start that again. Your father would probably have Lonts in a straitjacket, from what I've heard about him. He used to thrash you didn't he?"
"Until I got taller than him. The bastard".
"And I bet it was far worse than what you did to Lonts".
"Oh let's not talk about him, Patsy. Here we are in Paradise, or so it feels like standing here listening to the birds. The old man can't touch me anymore".
"It wasn't just Julian and prison that caused you to drink though was it?"
"No it wasn't", Adam sighed, in a resigned way as though ordered to unburden his heart "But then which one of us doesn't have a dysfunctional relationship with their father? Apart from those who were born in this time, and they just grew up in camps. Ransey described it to me as forty boys in a dormitory all lined up and washing themselves in unison. Anyway, talking of fathers, why do you never mention yours? Not once have you ever mentioned him in all the time I've known you".
"I never knew him", Kieran shrugged "Simple as that. He focked off when I was eighteen-months-old. Couldn't handle family life. Got jealous of me Mam's attention being focused on me. We never heard from him again. Not so much as a Christmas card even. Mam refused to divorce him though. Last we heard was when a friend of Mam's told us he'd gone to New Zealand. Although what the poor New Zealanders had done to deserve him I don't know! So there you are, that's the Flannery dark family secret. Not very exciting is it? I just hope he doesn't do a Julian and pop up somewhere we least expect".
"You wouldn't be curious to meet him?"
"No. Well I don't suppose he's very interesting, or particularly nice for that matter, and I wouldn't have anything to say to him".
"Not even after what he did to your mother?"
"As far as I could see she was better off without him. He'd have driven her to drink if he'd stayed around".
"Yes you're probably right. After all, that's what my father did to my mother".
"Your mam drank?"
"Yes. Pathetic isn't it? It's almost like a family heirloom with our lot, alcoholism. Passed down lovingly from one generation to the next".
"I know this is going to sound daft, but why didn't your father ever try to help her?"
"Because he caused it", said Adam "And it suited him. Kept her obedient. Whilst she was drinking she wasn't likely to start having a mind of her own".
"I thought, from what I've heard of him, he'd be embarrassed at least?"
"Don't be silly. Even if she'd disgraced herself in public he could act the martyr. Say to people, look at this ungrateful bitch. I've given her a nice house and a comfortable lifestyle, and all she can do is drink. For years he got nothing but sympathy, everyone praising him for standing by her. Such a devoted husband".
"And he was like that with you?"
"No, I WAS the embarrassment. That's why I was packed off to school when I was seven, so that at least for several weeks of the year he wouldn't have to see me".
"He couldn't have known you were gay when you were seven!"
"Oh my father could. He was very clever that way", said Adam, sarcastically "He had the wisdom of a typical old dinosaur. Could tell at a glance when a child wasn't 'manly' enough. Not one you could take down the golf club for a drink when he's older. I might embarrass him and order a drink that wasn't 'manly'".
"Stupid old twat. Makes me even more glad mine ran off".
"And what complaint does Joby have about his father?"
"None", Kieran sighed "The worst you could say about him was that he was a lazy old git. Every so often the rest of the family would dig him out from under the debris on the sofa. He wouldn't have had the energy to be cruel. No, Joby's family were alright. Apart from his brother, who I think was a reincarnation of Jack the Ripper. Hard to believe they're brothers when you think how gentle Joby is at times. You've just reminded me, there were times ..."
"There were times before I met Amy, when we weren't much older than Lonts, when I used to go round to Joby's house, when he still lived with his parents. We'd sit in his room sometimes, listen to music, smoke, talk about girls, all the usual things. His brother used to come bursting in, and start ranting that we were dirty little queers, up to no good".
"He'd be right these days wouldn't he!"
"He wasn't then though".
"I suspect he was jealous of you. Joby thought of you as a brother instead of him".
"Funny thing is", said Kieran "Even in those very early days I think given half a chance we'd have started cuddling and things. What stopped us I suppose was fear of being caught and ..."
"Yes. You've got to understand it was all outside our experience. Emotions scare you when you can't explain them".
"And yet you once said to me 'Joby is just Joby, one of those people you just happen to pick up with in life'".
"And so he is. We didn't suddenly decide to be best mates, it just happened. Apart from working together we had nothing in common on the surface. I was lonely, homesick, and he was kind to me. It just grew from there. Joby is one of those people you do just pick up with, but that's what makes it all so special and extraordinary. It's like that for you isn't it? I mean, you two have nothing in common at all. Until we crossed over, you were only vaguely aware of his existence. And now look what's happened!"
"Joby grows on you. He's kind and gentle, but he's also a fighter in his own way. He never stops kicking at things, getting angry when it's needed. Raging at the injustices of life. It's driven me mad at times, but I admire him greatly for it".
At that moment Joby was hauling Lonts along the beach. The boy had decided to run away, which Joby found more laughable than anything, as the idea of anyone attempting to run away on a small island was the sort of absurdity only Lonts could have thought of.
"Come on!" Joby yelled, dragging Lonts along by his wrist.
"I'm not coming back", Lonts sobbed, wildly "I'm going to go and live on the other side of the island".
"Don't be fucking stupid. You can't take care of yourself".
"That doesn't matter. At least I won't get hit there".
"Nobody'd hit you here if you only did as you were told. It stands to reason Adam's going to whack you when you bite him doesn't it? Now come on!"
They finally reached the hut. Once inside Lonts crouched down on his haunches on the sandy floor and sucked his thumb. All the while tears were pouring down his face.
"Look I can understand how you feel", said Joby, crouching down next to him "But if you didn't upset Adam he'd leave you alone".
"Is he evil?" Lonts asked, quietly.
"No. He can just be a bad-tempered old sod sometimes".
"Has he ever hit you?"
"Yes. But not like that, although he's threatened to! He's not a bad bloke really if you get on the right side of him. You've just got to try a bit harder that's all".
"He'll hit me again tonight".
"Because I tried to run away".
"Not if I don't tell him".
"Would you do that for me?" Lonts's eyes opened wide with astonishment.
"On one condition", said Joby "You don't give me any more trouble for the rest of the day. Because if anything happens to you I'll be in trouble as well".
"I'll make sure you're alright", said Lonts.
Adam and Kieran had climbed up a small hill situated at the north-west of the island. This was an area that none of them visited very often, although they would all have been hard pushed to explain why this was the case. It was a pleasant enough area, although a bit bleak and lonely. At the top they found a one-roomed shack hiding amongst the rocks and bushes.
"Another trace of the previous settlers", said Kieran.
"The unsociable branch obviously", Adam panted "If it's safe we could park inside for a couple of hours, until the worst of the heat is over".
Inside they found the hut to still be structurally sound. The only remnants of the previous settlers was a bed with a stained mattress, and some obscure scribblings on the walls.
"Adam!" Kieran exclaimed "These are runic symbols".
"Are you sure?"
"Oh come on, you can tell these anywhere".
"Yes, but runic symbols on a desert island?" said Adam "It's a touch bizarre isn't it? What do they say?"
"I haven't a clue. I just recognise them, although it might have to do with warding off evil spirits".
"How can you tell that?"
"Somebody's gone to the trouble of tying a stick from an ash-tree over the doorway", said Kieran "They must have brought it with them. Ash wards off evil spirits".
"Can you sense anything about this place?"
"Nothing bad. Whoever lived here loved it very much".
"Yes", said Adam "Even I can pick that up. They must have been successful at keeping the evil spirits away. Perhaps you should lie down and have a snooze. I doubt you'd dream of Gabriel here".
"It seems a terrible waste to actually sleep here", said Kieran "When we've got a whole room to ourselves".
He beckoned Adam towards him, and slipped off his sweat-sodden clothes. Kieran stripped him entirely, taking in the marvels of his erection at the same time. Gradually he dropped to his knees and wrapped his lips around Adam's cock.
They lay together on the bed, Adam wrapped around Kieran like salmon around cream cheese. They had been dozing for a couple of hours. Both had kept waking at intermittent intervals, but had pretended to be asleep, not wishing to break the mood. It was only at times like this that Adam fully appreciated how much he needed to be alone with Kieran, and how rarely they managed it.
"Let's not tell the others about this place", said Kieran, drowsily "Then it can be our bolt-hole".
"I'm all for that", said Adam, kissing the boy's shoulder tenderly.
"Perhaps we could make this our second home. When we get fed up with the others we could come out here, and pretend we're a couple".
"We are a couple. In our own way".
"I know I can't be very exciting as a lover".
"Patsy?" said Adam, in astonishment "What on earth makes you say that? Haven't I always said you were born for the act of love?"
"In spite of my puny cock?"
"I think you're suffering from sunstroke. You're talking as though you're deranged".
"But Gabriel", Kieran began to sob "Gabriel said ... when he ..."
"What the hell would Gabriel know about making love?" said Adam "That man probably puts surgical gloves on when he visits the lavatory! Don't let him do this to you Patsy, or you'll end up like Julian. That's how Gabriel got him".
"I thought I'd put it all behind me this year", said Kieran "It'd stopped preying on me. But then that dream last night. It brought it all back to me".
Adam pulled Kieran over so that the boy was lying on top of him.
"Why don't you sleep on my mattress tonight?" said Adam "Then I can help you if you get problems. Hillyard can doss down with Ransey".
"Joby would get upset".
"You could try thinking of yourself for a change".
"I'll be fine, Addy", said Kieran "Particularly now we've found this place. This'll make it up to you that I sleep with Joby".
"You don't need to make it up to me! Now, I'll give you five seconds to name something completely selfish that you'd like to do, and sod what anyone else would think. Or name several selfish things. We've got all afternoon".
"I'd like to roger you for a change", said Kieran "Or does that sound too exhausting?"
In the end it suited them both immensely. Adam knew that Kieran wanted to screw him to prove his own "manhood", as it were. As a means to get back at Gabriel. Adam didn't care, as he enjoyed it too much. As Kieran climaxed inside him, Adam could almost imagine the spirit of Gabriel heading to the hills in outrage.
"Now are you satisfied you're not losing your vitality?" said Adam.
"So you did feel something then?" Kieran gave the kind of laugh that could have graced a thousand bordello's.
"Looks like I'm going to have to sort you out", said Adam, pulling him back towards him.
"Well well well, you two look like a pair of Toby Jugs sat there", said Adam.
Exhausted from chopping down the tree, Hillyard and Ransey were sitting back-to-back, gazing at the debris.
"We've got enough firewood there to last a year", said Ransey.
"I thought that was going to be our verandah", Adam protested.
"See how I feel about it in the morning", said Hillyard "At the moment I don't want to even think about building a verandah".
"Chances are", said Ransey "The verandah'll be in better nick than the house!"
"Build us a new house then", said Kieran.
"Those sort of remarks don't make you popular at a time like this", said Hillyard, brushing the sweat from his eyes "I could build myself a bed though. That'd get me out of your hair, Adam. Yea, a new bed".
"And a verandah", said Kieran.
Joby had built a camp-fire on the beach, and was making coffee over it. Lonts was sitting nearby, thumb in mouth as usual. Although the boy had behaved himself, Joby was still exhausted. With having to watch Lonts constantly, he had felt completely wound up and unable to relax for a single moment.
"There you all are!" he shouted, as the other four emerged from the trees "I hope you've all enjoyed yourselves, whilst I've been stuck here minding him all day".
"Have you been good, Lonts?" said Kieran.
"Yes", Lonts nodded "I haven't done anything since ..."
"Since when?" said Adam, sharply.
"Since you left this morning", said Joby, sharply "He hasn't done anything at all. Not a foot wrong".
"Do you fancy a swim, Joby?" said Kieran.
"That dozy lunatic!" Joby exclaimed, after they had swum out of earshot "I tries to protect him, and then he nearly blows it all!"
"Poor Lonts", said Kieran "He'd never make a criminal".
"I don't wanna get possessive", said Joby, as they trod water "But I've missed you. Where have you been all day?"
"We just walked round the island, and slept in the shade for a couple of hours. I was a bit knackered after last night. Why does telling you all that make me feel like I'm having an illicit affair behind your back?"
"Don't be daft. I wasn't trying to catch you out. As I said, I've missed you. I got a bit lonely, just being here with Lonts. It's that kind of island. Fine normally, but it tends to crowd in on you when you're alone. Normally I want us to stay here forever, but today I got to thinking what it'd be like if we all started dying off".
"Joby, that's decades away, you daft eejit. Although I spose it's inevitable that someone's going to have to be last".
"Well it won't be me", said Joby "It'll be bad enough when Adam goes, but if I lost you ... I don't think I could live".
"Yes, you might end up alone with Hillyard", Kieran laughed "And after years of celibacy there'll be no holding him".
Joby splashed him. Kieran momentarily lost his balance and fell under the water. He came back up, spitting over him.
"This is still a good life", said Kieran, eventually, as he held onto Joby's shoulders "Back in the City we couldn't have come for a swim like this just for the hell of it. Well I suppose we could, but it'd be a lot more trouble".
"It's great isn't it?" said Joby, kissing him "Almost worth putting up with Lonts for".
"Here's to the beach bum lifestyle", said Kieran "We have everything here".
"Not quite", said Joby "Perhaps we could persuade Hillyard to build a distillery!"
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